Telco service and equipment fees remain the most complained-about issue among Australian consumers despite rampant outages during the recent bushfires and floods.
A report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reveals that complaints about phone and internet services from January to March (Q3) 2020 increased largely due to extreme weather events that affected New South Wales customers.
While total complaints (32,441) were down 14 percent year over year from 37,599, complaints were up 13 percent compared to the previous quarter’s 28.720, mostly related to phone and internet outages.
Customers that reported not having a working phone or internet service increased almost 70 percent from Q2, with internet outages on its own saw a 22 percent bump.
The TIO also reported there were 14 percent more complaints from residential customers, thanks to a rise in missed appointments during the period. Complaints from small businesses also increased 8 percent in Q3.
In spite of the increased complaints about outages and missed appointments, service and equipment fees are still the most-complained about issue at more than 10,500 complaints, followed by “no or delayed action from provider” with 10,200. Phone and internet outages were third with 5,400 complaints, but was 70 percent higher from Q2.
Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “The resilience of Australia’s phone and internet services has been tested in 2020. During the devastation of the bushfires, remaining connected to family, friends and community was critical to our safety.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic did not impact Australia until the end of the quarter, it has also highlighted our need for reliable phone and internet services. Telco issues we could accept before the pandemic have shifted significantly. Confined to our homes, we are working, running our small businesses, educating children, and keeping in touch with family and friends.
“Our lives are happening in the digital space and it is our phone and internet services that allow this to happen.”